Night Hike to the Beginning of Memory – and Beyond

June 11, 2018

 

“The joy in every successful metamorphosis conforms . . . with the intellect’s age-old energetic need to liberate itself from the deceptive and boring paradise of fixed memories and to investigate new, incomparably expansive areas of experience, in which the boundaries between the so-called inner world and the outer world become increasingly blurred and will probably one day disappear entirely.”

– Max Ernst.

 

Michal Janowski’s art is surely undergoing its own kind of metamorphosis today as, more and more, the artist seeks to delve deeper into his own subconscious by searching for creative stimulus in the random – and often fortuitous – shapes that his new art practice can provoke.

 

 

Whereas before, Janowski found inspiration through the juxtaposition of various sourced images – often assembling digital collage then using it as the foundation of a new work – his current process is much more hands-on and strenuous, requiring many applications of gesso and paint (and sometimes coffee) onto wooden boards, which he now uses instead of canvas. The artist then sets about sanding down, scraping and scouring – even dousing the prepared wood in the shower – to expose whatever haphazard and variegated layers this painstaking practice can produce.

 

His obsessive and methodical preparation acts as a kind of invocation ritual for the psychic and aleatory forces that the artist harnesses and exploits as he takes on the challenge of a new painting. Indeed, much depends at this early stage on a phenomenon called pareidolia (a psychological tendency in some people to perceive recognisable patterns in random or accidental arrangements.) Janowski hopes that by working under these conditions, he can chance upon some arbitrary shape or design in the wood’s weathered surface that will resonate with his subconscious and provide him with a subject, or at least a starting point, that he can develop and elaborate upon. If he can’t, he will have to begin again. The process is fraught with failure.

 

Nevertheless, Michal believes that in order to find a more potent visual language for himself, he must take these risks, even if that very same nascent visual language may seem at odds with some of his earlier work. This is understandable. After all, like many artists of integrity he worries that slavishly clinging onto the personal orthodoxy and soothing formulas of a ‘signature style’ might, in the long run, stifle an evolving and more authentic inner voice.

 

All the same, he is still an emerging artist with ambitions and so is sensitive, also, to what makes his work continue to appeal to its followers and collectors. Add to this his need to revisit certain images and themes in his paintings, and we can start to understand this young painter’s desire to transform and renew his work, to put its oneiric vocabulary to the test in new and daring ways and discover, through trial and error, where it may yet take him. 

 

Nicholas Johnston 12 May, 2018 

 

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                                                                Studio - work in progress

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                                                                Developed paintings

 

 

                             

 

            

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